Most people who are diagnosed with a chronic disease go through a new identity search. So it is normal if you, too, feel that your life was turned upside down when you were diagnosed with pulmonary alveolar proteinosis (PAP).
You may experience that all you can think about is your disease and that your life is all about the disease. Previously, your life was filled with all sorts of possibilities, and now you can only concentrate on one single thing – PAP and its consequences.
It is normal to think a lot about your disease, and worry about the future but there are ways to prevent the disease from dominating your life to an extent where you feel controlled by it. Though you have a severe, chronic disease there are still many things you can do. Focusing on your opportunities can help you take charge of your life, instead of letting the disease dominate it. The two psychologists Lawrence Fischer and William Polonsky have described how having a chronic disease impacts different aspect of your life:
Often it takes a great effort to admit and accept that you are ill and that you may not be able to do the same things as before – or at least not in the same way or to the same extent. But, nevertheless, it is your life, and you are in charge unless you decide not to be.
First step on the way to reduce PAP from being the main focus of your life to being just a part of your life along with many other aspects, is acceptance. You need to accept the disease in order to move on.
When you are given the diagnosis of PAP, you may lose your self-image as a healthy person. Suddenly, you belong to the group of chronically ill people. This may result in a grieving process that you have to work your way through, and a time where you have to revise your self-image. But gradually, you will start realising that you are still the same. Maybe you didn’t change as much as you thought. Ever so slowly, you will be able to assemble the pieces of your self-image in to a new picture almost similar to the old one but with slight changes.